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legal form Corporation
ISIN DE0007037129
founding 1898
Seat Essen , GermanyGermanyGermany 
Number of employees 19,792
sales 13.1 billion euros (2019)
Branch power supply
As of December 31, 2019

The RWE AG (until 1990 Rhine-Westfalia Electricity Works AG ), headquartered in Essen is a listed energy group . In terms of sales, it was at times the second largest supplier in Germany. The group has been one of the leading energy suppliers in the Netherlands since the takeover of Essent and is also represented in other markets (e.g. Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Turkey).


Share over 1000 marks in Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk AG on February 16, 1900

In 1898, RWE was founded as Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk AG as a municipal utility in Essen. Under Hugo Stinnes , RWE quickly expanded to become an intercity center through low prices and increased sales. Stinnes' recipe for success was based on generating electricity from hard coal at the site, steady sales of his hard coal and reducing the load peaks of his power plants . With the participation of the municipalities as financiers and sales market, RWE rose to one of the largest electricity suppliers in the German Empire by 1914. In 1914, RWE started converting lignite into electricity in the large power station with the golden mine .

After the great expansion of power plant capacities in the First World War , RWE continued to expand with the network of large central power plants. Under the management of Arthur Koepchen , the north-south line , a network at the highest voltage level, was built in the 1920s: during the day, electricity from the hydropower plants flowed northwards, at night lignite electricity flowed south to pump water into the storage power plants. In 1927/29 the supply area of ​​the RWE was determined in the so-called electrical peace with the other electricity suppliers and confirmed in the 1935 Energy Industry Act. The market structure crisis from 1930 onwards due to the oversizing of the large power plants in the 1920s was resolved by the energy-intensive armament of the Wehrmacht . On May 1, 1933, the executive board joined the NSDAP as a whole.

Against Wilhelm Ricken , the technical director and designated Director General of the State Police RWE determined since the autumn of 1943 food because of "sedition". The then Lord Mayor of Essen , Just Dillgardt , who was also the second chairman of the RWE supervisory board, reported Ricken to the state police. He had previously received a notice from the then commercial director and board colleague Rickens Friedrich Praedel. This "board colleague" of RWE is said to have urged Dillgardt to report. Wilhelm Ricken was arrested on October 20, 1943 and sentenced to death on March 8, 1944 by the People's Court, among other things for his statement "the war will end like 1918". Wilhelm Ricken was executed on May 2, 1944 in Berlin-Plötzensee .

Stolperstein for the arrest and execution of Wilhelm Ricken

At his last place of work in Essen a "stumbling block" reminds of him and his fate.

Due to the division of Germany after the Second World War , RWE rose to become by far the largest energy supply company in Germany. Until the end of the 1960s, RWE continued to rely on its hydropower and lignite-based electricity network. In 1974, when the Biblis  A nuclear power plant went into operation, the use of nuclear energy began. Due to the debates about forest dieback in the 1980s, the sulfur dioxide emissions from its lignite power plants came into the public eye. In 1990, the operational business of the conglomerate was carried out in the five corporate divisions of energy, mining and raw materials, mineral oil and chemicals, waste disposal, and machine, plant and equipment construction by the management companies RWE Energie , Rheinbraun , RWE Dea , RWE Entsorgung , Rheinelektra and Lahmeyer . In 1990, in a consortium , RWE acquired most of the entire east German electricity industry. The contract was revised in the “electricity comparison” before the Federal Constitutional Court . In the 1990s, RWE was active in the telecommunications industry with RWE Telliance (merged into in 1997 ) .

Since 2000

In 2000, RWE merged with its competitor Vereinigte Elektrizitätswerke Westfalen (VEW). At the same time, the preferential rights of municipal shareholders were acquired. In the years that followed, RWE developed from an energy and water supply company into a European group. In the course of this, RWE reduced long-term financial investments in companies such as Hochtief and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen .

As part of a further focus on core competencies, RWE announced in November 2005 that it would sell the water business of RWE Thames Water in Great Britain and American Water in North America. In the future, the company will focus exclusively on the energy business (electricity and gas) in Germany, Great Britain, Benelux and Central and Eastern Europe. With the sale of RWE Umwelt to Remondis in September 2004 , the exit from the waste disposal business was completed and the exit from the water business was initiated with the sale of Thames Water in December 2006. American Water went public in April 2008. The focus on the two energy sources electricity and gas was also made clear by the establishment of the Midstream division, which coordinates the Group's gas activities (e.g. gas purchasing, gas transport, gas storage).

RWE logo 2000–2007

In January 2009 the takeover plan of the Dutch energy supplier Essent was announced. The European Commission approved this plan in June 2009. The takeover of Essent was delayed until September 2009 because Essent, together with the Dutch utility Delta, is co-owner of the Borssele nuclear power plant , whose statutes stipulate that control of the plant remains in public hands got to. Essent transferred its economic stake in the nuclear power plant to RWE, but control of the nuclear power plant remained in the hands of the public shareholders. RWE acquired 100% of Energy Resources Holding (ERH), which in turn holds a 30% stake in the power plant company in Borssele.

Logo with which the group appeared in Germany from 2013 to 2016
RWE logo 2018–2019

On December 1, 2015, RWE announced that it was restructuring the group: In the future, the business areas of renewable energy, electricity grids and sales will be bundled in a new company. The goal was stated to supply the area with fresh equity through a capital increase of 10 percent and to bring it to the stock exchange or to sell it to an investor. The then much larger subsidiary with the name “ innogy ” should employ around 40,000 of the 60,000 employees and generate around 40 billion euros in annual sales. This split should also manage the risks of generating electricity from coal in a separate division. A possible phase-out of lignite-based power generation after the 2017 federal election would also be easier.

Nuclear phase-out

RWE was an advocate of nuclear energy under Jürgen Großmann as a board member and called for an extension of the service life of nuclear power plants . With the nuclear phase-out after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima , however, the extension of the term decided by the Bundestag the year before was reversed. As a result, in April 2011, RWE filed a lawsuit with the Kassel Administrative Court against the shutdown of Biblis A and B due to the nuclear moratorium . The lawsuit was upheld. RWE then filed a lawsuit against the state of Hesse and the federal government. RWE is demanding compensation for lost profits from electricity production in the reactors.

RWE initiated a change in corporate strategy under CEO Peter Terium (from July 2012). For financial reasons, it was decided not only in Germany but also internationally to get out of nuclear energy, which is associated with very high capital costs, and not to participate in any further new construction projects for nuclear power plants. The company withdrew from already planned nuclear power projects in the UK. Instead, renewable energies , which have been neglected for a long time, should now be expanded more intensively , including solar energy . RWE is also involved in the Desertec Foundation , although its future is questionable. Terium also emphasized that in retrospect it was a mistake to have rejected solar technology for a long time.

In autumn 2015, some media reported that the provisions made by RWE for the dismantling of the nuclear power plants operated by the company may not be sufficient. The newspaper Rheinische Post reported a funding gap of 7.5-10 billion euros, citing "Berliner Kreise". RWE, however, confirmed that the provisions at the time of the dismantling will probably be sufficient to finance it. The discrepancies in the calculations are apparently at least partly due to different assumptions about the interest on the provisions. However, Peter Terium warned in an interview that in the event of further unplanned burdens on the company, in particular the lignite levy proposed by the federal government, the company could no longer have enough money for the dismantling.

Coal exit


RWE managers Terium and Hartung next to state ministers and trade unionists at a rally against the national climate protection contribution in April 2015

Germany's energy policy stipulations on the expansion of renewable energies and CO 2 reduction have a decisive influence on RWE's business model. The Renewable Energy Sources Act formulates the goal of generating 80% of electricity in Germany from renewable energies by 2050. What role coal - especially lignite - can then still play is controversial. According to the company, however, lignite could "make an important contribution to security of supply" by the middle of the century.

RWE positions itself as an opponent of a coal phase-out and advocates sticking to lignite-based power generation. RWE warns of “structural breaks” should a coal phase-out be initiated in Germany. In the opinion of critics, with this strategy, RWE is missing out on steering the coal phase-out - necessary adjustments would be all the more serious later. RWE AG has an operating license for Garzweiler II until 2045.

The current protests against lignite mining are focused on the deforestation of the Hambach Forest .

In 2014, the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia decided that the lignite would be needed by 2030 and decided to downsize the opencast mine. According to this, around 300 million of a total of 1.3 billion tons of brown coal should no longer be dredged. Nevertheless, RWE still has a lot of support in (state) politics - especially in the SPD and CDU. The influence of the UN climate conference in Paris on the debate is eagerly awaited. RWE is currently confronted with a growing anti-coal power movement in the Rhenish lignite district.

To reduce CO 2 emissions, coal-fired power plants have to be shut down or switched off. In order to achieve this goal, there are different concepts: RWE demanded the establishment of a capacity market for the shutdown of lignite power plants, which should be paid for by a levy. The federal government was planning a reform of the electricity market for 2015, which should also include the introduction of a national climate protection contribution . RWE saw its open-cast lignite mines and lignite power plants threatened by the surrender and the beginning of a coal phase-out in Germany. The air post was to controversial political debate and pressure from trade unions IG BCE and Verdi but not introduced, some lignite plants are instead now decommissioned and placed in a safety willingness transferred. The groups RWE, E.ON and Mibrag receive remuneration totaling 1.6 billion euros. Units P and Q of the Frimmersdorf power plant are to be put into readiness on October 1, 2017 and decommissioned on September 30, 2021. Units E and F of the Niederaussem power plant are to be put into readiness on October 1, 2018 and decommissioned on September 30, 2022. Unit C of the Neurath power plant should be put into readiness on October 1, 2019 and shut down on September 30, 2023. RWE is to take 1,448 MW off the grid. It is assumed, however, that the lignite power plants in Frimmersdorf and Niederaussem would probably be shut down around 2020 anyway. According to this, only 292 MW of Block C in Neurath would also be shut down by the safety standby.

According to a study by the German Institute for Economic Research commissioned by Greenpeace, “only a maximum of 280 million tons of lignite may be mined” in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement . RWE, on the other hand, is assuming a production volume of 630 million tons of lignite.


The Dutch state has committed itself to reducing CO 2 emissions by 25 percent compared to 1990 and wants to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 . The Netherlands refuses to pay damages. RWE is examining filing a lawsuit if the group cannot obtain compensation for financial disadvantages in a “dialogue with politicians”.


Group structure

The operative business of RWE AG is bundled in four companies:

  • RWE Renewables GmbH - energy generation from renewable energies based in Essen
    • RWE Renewables International GmbH (formerly: E.ON Climate & Renewables GmbH and taken over by E.ON at the end of 2019)
    • RWE Windparks Deutschland GmbH (formerly: E. ON Climate & Renewables Windparks Deutschland GmbH and taken over by E.ON at the end of 2019) - onshore wind turbines
    • RWE Renewables Sweden AB
    • RWE Renewables Italia Srl
    • RWE Renewables UK Limited
    • RWE Energie Odnawialne Sp. Z oo
    • RWE Renewables Americas LLC
    • RWE Renewables Japan GK
  • RWE Generation SE - energy generation from gas , hard coal , water and biomass based in Essen
    • RWE Generation NL
    • RWE Generation UK
    • RWE Technology International GmbH - Consulting company for conventional generation, mining , renewable energies, grid connections
    • RWE & Turcas Güney Elektrik Üretim A.Ş.

The Networks and Sales divisions were handed over to E.ON in 2019.

Corporate management

The chairman of the board is Rolf Martin Schmitz . The other board member is Markus Krebber .

Werner Brandt is the chairman of the 20-person supervisory board . The deputy chairman of the supervisory board is Frank Bsirske (chairman at ver.di ).

Share and shareholders

The company's share capital is divided into around 676 million ordinary shares . Following the resolution of the Annual General Meeting in May 2019, trading in preference shares was discontinued at the end of June 28, 2019 and all preference shares were converted into ordinary shares. The ordinary shares have been part of the DAX since 1988 and were also included in the DivDAX in September 2018 . The total of around 9.5% of the shares held by the two municipal shareholders, Dortmund and Essen, are regarded as permanent holdings, while the remaining 90.5% of the ordinary shares are considered free float . In addition to the shareholders who are required to report, other municipal shareholders hold a share in the share capital. These are organized, for example, in the Association of Municipal RWE Shareholders (VKA GmbH). The shareholders organized in this association and other municipal shareholders together hold almost a fifth of the shares.

Shareholders with reportable shares as of January 1, 2020:

proportion of Shareholders
4.79% City of Dortmund
3.26% City of Essen
6.52% BlackRock, Inc.

From 2006 to 2010 a dividend of EUR 3.50 per share was paid out. In 2011 and 2012, two euros per unit were distributed. Due to the lack of profits , the dividend for the 2013 and 2014 financial years was halved to one euro and finally suspended for the 2015 and 2016 financial years for ordinary shares and reduced to EUR 0.13 for preference shares. For the year 2018 (2017), shareholders of both share classes received EUR 0.70 per share (EUR 1.50).

Corporate culture

RWE's grown, traditional corporate culture is strongly influenced by its roots in mining in the Rhineland and by co-determination. It is consensus-oriented and bureaucratic. The mutual exertion of influence by and on municipal shareholders is characteristic of the group. This is institutionalized by regional advisory boards, which are not prescribed by the Stock Corporation Act, in which local politicians, representatives of municipal energy producers and other stakeholders sit. They receive an expense allowance of EUR 6,650 to EUR 7,400 annually from RWE. The group's critics describe the nod with the buffet as “legalized corruption” . After a legal dispute by the Napp advisory board before the Federal Administrative Court , the municipal advisory boards have had to pay the remuneration since 2011.

In this context, there have also been direct donations to local and state politicians in the past; In November 2004, for example, it became known that RWE had paid Hermann-Josef Arentz, among others, 60,000 euros a year and supplied electricity free of charge. Likewise, the CDU General Secretary Laurenz Meyer was paid 81,800 euros and electricity was supplied free of charge. The group justified the payments with a "communication error". As a result of this so-called RWE affair , RWE's lobbying policy came under general criticism.

Lobbyists of the RWE Group obtain house IDs from the German Bundestag through the SPD, with which they have direct access to the building.

Production facilities

Energy carriers and power plants

Niederaussem power plant

RWE operates numerous power plants; For the most part, RWE's energy production takes place through conventional fossil coal and gas-fired power plants. For RWE, the following values ​​result for 2011: 16.7% of electricity is generated from nuclear energy , 4.3% from renewable energy sources and 79.0% from fossil and other energy sources .

The company's CO 2 emissions amounted to more than 163 million tons in 2013, making the company the largest emitter of CO 2 in Europe according to its own information .

In 2013, for example, RWE imported coal from the El Cerrejón mine in Colombia. There it comes to conflicts of interest with the Wayúu people. RWE launched the "Better Coal" initiative in 2010 together with the European coal importers E.ON , Vattenfall , Électricité de France , GDF Suez , Enel and Dong Energy . This should ensure that coal mining takes place with responsibility for the environment. The initiative is criticized as greenwashing .

In 2018, the group generated 38.2% of its electricity from lignite, 26.8% from gas, 15.6% from hard coal, 12.4% from nuclear energy, 5.6 from renewables and 1.4% from pumped water, oil and other power plants.

→ Lists of RWE power plants under RWE Generation (nuclear and conventional power plants including hydropower)


With the requirements of the Energy Industry Act and the EU and after the model of negotiated network access initially favored by the German energy industry was implemented in favor of state- regulated network access, the legal unbundling of the transmission (or long-distance line ) and distribution networks for electricity and power came from 2003 Gas with the creation of dedicated subsidiaries.

Transmission network electricity

In 2003, Amprion (originally RWE Transportnetz Strom GmbH ) was founded as a subsidiary in the RWE Group. Amprion, based in Dortmund, is one of four transmission system operators in Germany. The sale of 74.9% of Amprion's shares by RWE for a purchase price of EUR 1 billion to a Commerz Real consortium of infrastructure funds was announced in June 2011 and completed in September 2011.

Gas pipeline network

In 2004 Thyssengas (originally RWE Transportnetz Gas GmbH ) was created as a subsidiary of the transmission system operator in the RWE Group. In April 2007 the EU Commission initiated abuse proceedings against RWE on the suspicion that it had made it difficult for competitors to access the natural gas market through RWE Transportnetz Gas. The EU Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes came to the conclusion that RWE dominated the gas transport markets in North Rhine-Westphalia. After threatening a fine in the hundreds of millions, RWE offered in May 2008 to sell its gas transmission network in Germany to an independent third party within two years. After a long examination, the EU competition authority announced in mid-March 2009 that the proceedings would be discontinued in the event of a sale of the gas transmission right. In December 2010, a contract to sell Thyssengas was finally signed. The sale was completed in February 2011 after approval by the antitrust authorities.

Distribution networks

On January 1, 2013, RWE spun off its distribution network business for electricity, gas and water into a new company. The distribution network operator is Westnetz , a subsidiary of Innogy based in Dortmund. After the sale of Innogy, they have belonged to E.ON since September 2019.


Economic situation

View of the construction site of the Westphalia coal-fired power plant in 2010

Due to the favorable competitive environment , namely the oligopolistic competitive structures, RWE was able to generate consistently good profits over many decades. However, not only in the course of the energy turnaround did the company run into economic difficulties. The conventional power plants operated by the company are losing profitability. At the same time, RWE has problems opening up new, profitable business areas - for example in the area of ​​renewable energies.

RWE ordinary and preference shares have developed significantly negatively in recent years, both in absolute terms and relative to the DAX and other major indices. The company attributes this largely to the negative earnings prospects of conventional electricity generation. In the opinion of critics, however, the poor situation is also the result of several serious management errors. The management had held on to nuclear power for too long, systematically underestimated the expansion of renewable energies and held on to investments in coal power.

RWE is also struggling with many difficulties in individual projects and in various markets: the construction of two additional blocks for the Westfalen coal-fired power plant has been delayed for an indefinite period due to technical problems and, according to the Group's estimates, will be at least 400 million euros more expensive than planned. It was originally planned to be completed in 2012. It is questionable whether the investment and operating costs can even be covered by operation after completion.

New construction of the coal-fired power plant in Eemshaven in November 2012

RWE is also continuing to invest in the generation of electricity from coal in the Netherlands: On the edge of the Wattensee in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, the group is building a coal-fired power plant with a capacity of 1,600 megawatts for around 3 billion euros. In the UK, RWE had problems with the billing system in its private customer business in 2015 and suffered from a loss of customers.

In 2013, for the first time since the post-war period, RWE posted a negative result for the period of EUR -2.443 billion. This had sometimes serious consequences for the public shareholders. The city of Essen alone had to write off its stake in RWE by 680 million euros in 2013.

According to its own statement, the company intends to invest more in renewable energies in the future in order to remain competitive in the new regulatory environment. According to its own statement, the management is pursuing a strategy of financial consolidation. The aim is to operate more sustainably and to become more robust, while expansion strategies should no longer have priority. According to the Handelsblatt, around a third of the Group's invested capital in 2014 was nevertheless used to complete new power plants in the field of conventional electricity generation. RWE continued to plan to build the new “Boaplus” lignite power station at the Niederaussem power station . After the high loss in 2013, RWE scaled back its announced investments in renewable energies. In November 2013, the company announced harsh austerity measures and the cut of up to 10,400 jobs by 2016. RWE planned to expand its business in Turkey in 2015.

In the first nine months of 2015, RWE lost 200,000 customers and is now selling electricity to a total of 5.4 million customers. According to RWE, it will take at least until 2017 for the group to make profits again in Great Britain. For 2015, the losses are estimated at a mid-double-digit million amount. RWE assumes that the problem could be resolved until the end of 2016. In Spain, funding for solar projects in which RWE had invested was retrospectively reduced. RWE also wanted to get into the Nabucco pipeline business. However, the planning was discontinued in 2013. In 2015, RWE reached an out-of-court settlement with Arab gas companies to pay a three-digit million sum due to a disputed breach of a confidentiality agreement.

Market position in Germany

RWE is one of the world's largest electricity and gas suppliers. In Germany, according to its own statements, in 2013 the company was in first place in terms of sales figures in the electricity market and third in the gas market. In 1999, the Federal Cartel Office feared a non-competitive duopoly in the electricity market when RWE and VEW merged , because Veba and Viag applied for a merger to form E.ON at the same time . The two mergers were approved in 2000 with far-reaching conditions. In 2003, the Federal Cartel Office determined in a prohibition order, which was confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice in 2008 , that E.ON and RWE form a " dominant duopoly" . In its 2011 sector investigation report, the Cartel Office assumes, based on data from 2007/08 and assuming no fundamental changes until 2010, that “several providers ( RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and possibly also EnBW ) individually feature. a dominant position " the monopolies Commission was in its special report in 2013 that the individual market power no longer exists in the current market conditions.

In 2006, RWE received a warning from the German Federal Cartel Office for claiming free CO 2 certificates from its industrial customers as costs.

In March 2013, the Federal Cartel Office initiated proceedings against seven supply companies, including RWE Energiedienstleistungen, Dortmund (formerly: ExxonMobil / Favorit Fernwärme) on suspicion of excessive district heating prices. The investigations concentrated on around 30 different heat supply areas, spread across almost all federal states.

End customer business with electricity and gas

RWE offers its private customers electricity and gas through various sales companies, holdings and under various brand names.

According to the company, around four million customers purchase electricity (and gas) directly from RWE Vertrieb AG . RWE also sells electricity and gas under the eprimo brand . The eprimo GmbH is a 100 percent subsidiary of RWE Vertrieb AG .

The sale of electricity via door-to-door sales is criticized by competitors and consumer advocates. RWE also uses this sales channel. In some cases, the customer recruiters engaged by RWE used unfair means to persuade potential customers to switch electricity providers when they visit their homes . The municipal utilities of Bochum , Emmerich and Wuppertal put through an injunction in court that RWE must refrain from making false claims in door-to-door sales. In 2013, legal proceedings against RWE failed in Aachen and Menden.

Selected transactions

Selected acquisitions (from 2000)
Selected divestments (from 2000)


Critics accused RWE of sticking to conventional energies, particularly coal, and of not promoting renewable energies sufficiently. The share of renewable energies in the electricity mix at RWE in 2009 was below average compared to other electricity suppliers.

RWE is itself the largest user of lignite in Germany: the company mines coal in the Rhenish lignite district, particularly in the Garzweiler , Hambach and Inden opencast mines . RWE is criticized for being responsible for the lowering of the groundwater and for mining damage . Furthermore, the destruction of localities and nature by the excavation was criticized. Examples are the end-of-terrain campaign in 2015 , the demolition of the almost 1000-year-old village of Immerath initiated in January 2018 and the conflict over the evacuation of the Hambach Forest in 2018 .

See also


  • Joachim Radkau, Lothar Hahn : The rise and fall of the German nuclear industry . Oekom, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-86581-315-2 .
  • Helmut Maier (Ed.): Electricity industry between environment, technology and politics: Aspects from 100 years of RWE history 1898–1998 . TU Bergakademie, Freiberg 1999, ISBN 3-86012-087-5 .
  • Hans Pohl: From public utility to large electricity company. Foundation, development and expansion of the "Rheinisch-Westfälische Elektrizitätswerke AG" (RWE) 1898–1918 . Steiner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-515-05727-7 .
  • Lutz Mez , Rainer Osnowski: RWE - a giant with charisma . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-462-02550-3 .
  • Thomas P. Hughes : Networks of Power. Electrification in Western Society . 1880-1930, London 1983.
  • Gerald D. Feldman : Hugo Stinnes. Biography of an industrialist 1870–1924 . CH Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-43582-3 .
  • Dieter Schweer, Wolf Thieme (ed.): RWE - a group becomes transparent. The glass giant . Gabler, Wiesbaden 1998, ISBN 3-409-01898-0 . (commissioned by RWE for the 100th company anniversary)

Web links

Commons : RWE  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: RWE  - in the news

Individual evidence

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